Finding the Coach in the Cox

On Saturday 27th September, Henley Town Hall played host to a sold-out conference focused on coxing development.

Guidance for coxing has always been in high demand, yet material can be limited and is often relatively basic. As such, coxes are regularly left to develop their skills in their own time.

In an effort to encourage more support for coxing development, steersman James Lee decided to organise a conference specifically for coxes – the idea being to bring some of the nation’s most successful and experienced coxes together to share best practice, address pressing issues and spark constructive discussion amongst the group.

The panel, which included Zoe de Toledo, current cox of the GB Women’s Eight, Rory Copus, cox of this year’s Henley Royal-winning Oxford Brookes Eight and Rachel Quarrell, rowing correspondent for the Telegraph, covered a variety of topics through the course of the day. 

Starting from the specifics of a cox’s role in a crew, the focus moved through ‘how to motivate crews’, ‘the principles behind technical drills’, ‘the career of a cox from novice to international’ and ‘how to coach coxes’. The day ended with an open Q&A session between the panel and the 50 attendees. 

“It was really encouraging to see such a range of people in attendance,” said Zoe. “People seemed really engaged in the discussed topics, from juniors just starting their careers on the water, to coaches looking to improve on the way they advance the coxes in their squads.”

The clear theme that emerged throughout the day was promoting confidence in coxes to step out from the coach’s shadow. By working in unison with the coaching staff at a club and developing their personal experience and knowledge of the sport, the cox could then confidently act as a coach within the boat.

“I wanted to help generate a situation where cox development is just as important as the development of the rowers,” said James, after the event. “The four of us have already begun talking about follow-ups. We are all very keen in particular to approach steering the Tideway, so keep an eye out around February or March. As Rachel said, ‘let’s do things better this year’. Hopefully this was the first step.”

By Aaron Sims